The person most present in Nicki McIvor’s colorful and busy home is her son, Davy Goulet.
Davy, 42, died eight weeks ago of accidental fentanyl poisoning.
His ashes rest in a hand-carved urn on the kitchen island, part of a homey memorial that also includes one of Davy’s favorite ball caps, and his lighter.
There are pictures, a flannel coat and a pair of camouflage slippers. A thick stack of file folders represents the paperwork associated with sudden death.
“Some days are better than others,” says Nicki, who has lived her entire life in Princeton. She’s a well-known tie dye artist and organizer of the local Saturday market.
“Some days are really hard, some days are just awful. Today is a little better because I am doing something.”
Friday August 31 was International Overdose Awareness Day. Nicki and her daughters, Kristie and Jess, spent the preceding days making posters, curling purple ribbons and decorating their garden with memorials to Davy and Nicki’s sister Tracey, who died of a drug overdose five years ago.
“What I want to do now is speak out,” she says. “We have to speak out and end the stigma and stand together against this crisis.”
She knows the statistics.
There were 878 illicit drug overdose deaths in BC in the first seven months of 2018, meaning 4.3 people die each day.
In Princeton, a town with a population of 2,800, there have been at least three overdose deaths this year, and there were five in 2017.
“Who is next?” she asks. “Is it my daughter? Is it your kid? Is it my grandson?”
The message she wants to spread the most is that no home is truly safe.
“People think ‘not my kid. We are a good family.’ Well, that’s not how it goes.”
Davy was not a drug addict, says Nicki, but died after ingesting a recreational drug contaminated with fentanyl.
She shakes her head and rolls her eyes as she acknowledges: “Davy made some poor choices.”
But that is not how she frames memories of her son.
He loved music and dancing. He teased his sisters, while always trying to protect them.
Although he suffered from depression “he had a great sense of humor. He could make people laugh even when he was crying.”
Davy died in Maple Ridge. He moved there for a fresh start, says Nicki.
“He said he wanted to make his family proud. He wanted to make his son proud.”
He was looking forward to a new job, and excited about his opportunities.
Davy called his Mom, just hours before he died. He was upbeat and optimistic.
“I just talked to him. And I don’t understand. You think as a mother, when you have such a bond with your child, that I would have had a feeling, something in my heart, an instinct that something was wrong. Why didn’t I feel that?”
For Nicki there are too many unanswered questions.
“Davy has passed out of his suffering in this world. But we are left - his family and the friends who loved him.”
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